When people in management roles think about moving ahead in their career, they generally aspire to having their boss's job. The trick is figuring out how to get there. Sometimes, if you are lucky or because you have positioned yourself effectively, you are the heir-apparent for your boss's job because of your:
Time in job
Ability as compared to your peers
Your role as alpha-peer and are looked up to by your peers
Relationship with a senior executive mentor
. . . or other similar reasons
If you have one or more of the above items going for you, great, your next position may soon be within reach. If not, or if you expect your boss to be in his/her role for the foreseeable future, moving laterally to a new job at the same organizational level can help you:
Cement your heir-apparent status by gaining a deeper understanding of multiple functions within your current boss's responsibility.
Expand your professional knowledge into other business functions.
Make additional internal company contacts by meeting people in parts of your company that you have not previously worked with.
The nature of your new job responsibilities can give you a different and wider perspective on business in general.
Illustrate your professional agility. That is to say, your ability to be effective and successful in different types of management roles.
Learn new professional skills that are related directly to your new role.
Come to the realization, that like your current job, other jobs in your company are also much more difficult than they appear.
Help protect you from layoff during company downsizing because you have the knowledge to manage more than one company/department area. In fact, if downsizing causes multiple departments to be combined, you may gain additional management responsibilities because of the layoff.
Become reenergized professionally by doing something new and challenging.
Expand your skill set by being forced to perform tasks outside your comfort zone, such as giving presentations, meeting directly with clients, and/or other activities you have not performed in your current role.
Many great companies have formalized internal management programs that do exactly what I am suggesting you do. These programs facilitate job rotation throughout the company for their top performing mangers of all levels. They do this with the specific goal of widening the professional experience of their managers as a way to prepare them for more senior positions within the company.
If your company has such a program it can be of great professional value to get involved in such a formalized program. If a program of this type does not exist within your company, consider trying to facilitate your own job rotation. That said, I don't mean moving aimlessly from job to job within your company. I mean develop a plan that you think will get you promoted. For example, if you are the Manager of Accounts Receivable at a company and the opportunity arises to become the Manager of Accounts Payable, consider taking the job. The reason is that both roles report to your boss, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Having direct experience of two or more of your boss's responsible areas can help put you in the running for the CFO job if your boss changes jobs or leaves the company.
Continuing on this accounting department example, if over time you learn two, three, or four parts of the CFO role and your boss isn't going anywhere soon, this wide range of accounting experience expands your professional marketability and can help position you for a CFO job at another company.
The primary advice and takeaways from today's column is to know that:
Your willingness and ability to move horizontally/laterally within your company, as a way to gain additional knowledge, skills, and experience can help get you promoted.
This wider range of experience can help make you more marketable inside and outside of your current employer.
This blog is an excerpt from my weekly nationally syndicated column with GateHouse News Service. My new columns can be found in GateHouse Media publications throughout the United States.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.